Tonight at FredWebTech we discussed how Frederick has attempted to build a tech community and how we can continue to grow a tech community for both the Frederick area and the Easter Panhandle.
We discussed the fact that EP is the fastest growing area of the State of West Virginia, about half the population holds a job out of state, and according to WVU and BLS projections the Eastern Panhandle is ~320% behind the national average in tech employment growth.
We discussed some of things that Frederick has done with organizations like Tech Frederick and FITCI. I got the impression that most people felt that these organizations have done little to actually attract job applicants and tech companies to the Frederick area. I got the impression that Frederick's largest advantage over the EP is simply its proximity to DC and Baltimore.
Some people felt that we should meet the community where it is. The Eastern Panhandle is in fact an excellent bedroom community. There is nothing wrong with that. We don't necessarily need to figure out how to create a tech hub or attract the next Google or Microsoft. What we must do is continue to grow and build each other up. We need to make sure that the community is a great place to live and learn. If you do this, the startups and high-tech companies will come.
In my mind, what we actually need to do is two things:
- Pick your favorite non-technical club or organization and get involved. Anything you can do to make your community a better place to live will help the tech community grow.
- Continue to do absolutely everything you can think of to drum up interest about the technical issues
The EP faces many challenges. To evangelize technology is an uphill battle. I know that our group cannot do it alone. I know that if I continue to talk about it with anyone willing to listen, eventually I'll be in the right place with someone who can effect greater positive change.